May Edition of the Washington E-Bulletin

May 28, 2008

The latest edition of the Washington E-Bulletin is now online! Here is the Table of Contents from the May Edition of the E-Bulletin:

-Thank You for Taking Action on Orphan Works!

-It’s Not Too Late! Register for the Legislative Advocacy Leadership Training
Sign Up for the Washington Blawg’s New RSS Feed and Email Option
-Acting Washington Affairs Representative Testifies on Government Printing Office’s Appropriations Request
-AALL, Congress Keep an Eye on EPA Libraries
-Senate Committee Holds Oversight Hearing of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
-NARA Releases Document Outlining Digitization Strategy
-White House Releases New Sensitive But Unclassified Information Policies

-Maryland Judiciary Announces Conference on Law Libraries and Legal Information

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie
-Library of the U.S. House of Representatives Launches New Website
-Federal Computer Week’s 5 Blogs worth Reading
-Federal News Radio on Executive Branch Record-Keeping

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

National Institutes of Health Calls for Comments on Public Access Policy

May 27, 2008

If you’re a user of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)- funded research, you may be interested in submitting comments on NIH’s new Public Access Policy (NOT-OD-05-022). Comments are due May 31, 2008.

As of April 7, NIH requires the submission of published articles resulting from NIH-funded research to PubMed Central, the online digital library maintained by NIH. These articles will be made publicly available for free on PubMed Central within 12 months of the publication date. This is a victory for supporters of public access to information, and NIH needs to hear from those who applaud this important step.

NIH is particularly interested in information about the following:

  1. Do you have recommendations for alternative implementation approaches to those already reflected in the NIH Public Access Policy?
  2. In light of the change in law that makes NIH’s public access policy mandatory, do you have recommendations for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy?
  3. In addition to the information already posted at, what additional information, training or communications related to the NIH Public Access Policy would be helpful to you?

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Sign up for the Blawg’s New RSS Feed and Email Subscription!

May 20, 2008

Due to a technical error, our current RSS feed and email option will expire at the end of the month. If you are signed up for the Washington Blawg’s RSS feed or subscribed by email, you will need to sign up again. We apologize for this inconvenience!

If you have questions about these services, please see here for more information about these services or contact me and I will be happy to answer your questions.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Senate Subcommittee Holds Oversight Hearing of the National Archives

May 16, 2008

On Wednesday, May 14, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held an oversight hearing of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The hearing focused on NARA’s electronic records management system and the preservation of executive branch electronic records, including White House emails.

The hearing featured two panels, the first of which included testimony from Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, NARA; Linda Koontz, Director, Information and Management Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office; and Paul Brachfeld, Inspector General, NARA. Brachfeld’s testimony provided a harsh critique of NARA’s Electronic Records Archives (ERA), and its plans to manage electronic White House Presidential Records.

The second panel included testimony from Patrice McDermott, Director,; Thomas Blanton, Director, National Security Archive and co-chair of; Dr. Jim Henderson, Former State Archivist, State of Maine; and Dr. Martin Sherwin, Professor of History, George Mason University.

AALL is following many of the issues addressed by Dr. McDermott in her testimony. For example, Dr. McDermott discussed NARA’s role as the site of new public access initiatives, including the Office of Government Information Services mandated by the OPEN Government Act (see the January Edition of the AALL’s Washington E-Bulletin). NARA is also designated as the “Executive Agent” responsible for implementing the White House’s new Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (see our previous blog post). Dr. McDermott also addressed NARA’s electronic records management responsibilities and NARA’s decision to stop taking snapshots of federal agency websites (see the April Edition of the Washington E-Bulletin).

In addition, Dr. McDermott’s testimony addressed NARA’s efforts to increase access to digital records by entering into partnerships with private sector entities to digitize historical holdings. Dr. Weinstein also addressed these partnerships in his testimony. This was a timely discussion, because late last week NARA released its new Strategy for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016, building on its former strategic plans and addressing some of the input NARA received from stakeholders, including AALL. This new document outlines NARA’s approach to digitization projects and includes NARA’s “Principles for Partnerships to Digitize Archival Materials.” We are pleased that the document addresses some of the issues AALL pointed out in the comments we submitted last November, including that free access to digitized materials be available in a timely fashion. In addition, we commend NARA for its commitment to issue calls for comments on proposed partnerships. NARA also published a list of the types of comments they received during the public comment period.

Wednesday’s hearing, the Subcommittee’s first NARA oversight hearing in more than three years, was an important look at NARA’s efforts to manage information in the digital age. We thank the Subcommittee for holding the hearing and hope that the increased oversight and attention will lead to a stronger National Archives.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

White House Issues Memo on New Controlled Unclassified Information Policy

May 14, 2008

Last Friday, the White House issued a memorandum on new rules governing the designation and sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The memo creates a uniform standard for information that previously fell under the broad category of Sensitive But Unclassified information (SBU).

The CUI framework is intended to ease information sharing in the government and rein in the various control markings used by agencies, such as “For Official Use Only” (FOUO), “Official Use Only” (OUO), and “Limited Official Use” (LOU). Under the CUI framework, all CUI information is categorized into one of three combinations of safeguarding procedures and dissemination controls. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is named as the “Executive Agent,” responsible for overseeing and managing implementation of this CUI Framework and prescribing any additional CUI markings.

The memo addresses the important problem of the alphabet soup of Sensitive But Unclassified designations, but many questions remain. Steven Aftergood, author of Secrecy News and Director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, expresses his concerns in his blog. He writes, “Which, if any, of the more than 100 existing control categories will be canceled, rather than absorbed into the new CUI category? The new policy does not say. At what point, if any, does the CUI designation expire? There’s no way to tell. What enforcement mechanisms are established to ensure compliance with the new policy? To be determined.”

On April 11, AALL signed onto a letter to the White House asking for a public review of proposed new rules governing the designation of Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information. Unfortunately, no public review occurred before the White House issued this memo. For background on our letter, see our previous blog post, “AALL and Others Urge Public Comment on Guidance for Sensitive But Unclassified Information.”

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Testifies on GPO Funding at House Legislative Branch Appropriations Hearing

May 12, 2008

On May 7, Acting Washington Affairs Representative Mary Alice Baish testified before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch in support of the FY 2009 Appropriations Request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Mary Alice’s testimony, endorsed by the American Library Association and the Special Libraries Association, strongly supports GPO’s Salaries & Expenses ($43.42 M), which funds the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), and Congressional Printing and Binding ($97.92 M), which funds the print publication of bills, hearings, reports and other congressional materials.

Mary Alice’s testimony [written testimony; oral testimony] urges the Subcommittee to agree to GPO’s $21.2 million request for the Federal Digital System (FDsys), GPO’s new digital system to manage Government information online. FDsys would replace the clunky, obsolete technology of GPO Access. We believe FDsys is essential to GPO’s future because it will ensure that the Federal government’s electronic information will be permanently available, authenticated and versioned, and accessible through the Internet.

Mary Alice’s testimony also highlights GPO’s progress in several areas due to the new functionalities available through FDsys. GPO has asserted itself as the source of trusted government information by adding digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access, thus ensuring the documents’ authenticity. This year, GPO launched an online collection of authenticated Public and Private Laws of the 110th Congress. In February, GPO digitally signed the 2009 Budget of the United States Government and published it in print after the Office of Management and Budget announced that it would only publish the budget online.

In addition, GPO is continuing its progress in automated web harvesting through FDsys to discover and capture online publications from agency web sites, building on its 2006 pilot project with the Environmental Protection Agency. These web harvests increase public access to web-based agency information and ensure its preservation.

Mary Alice reminded Subcommittee members that managing the life cycle of online information is expensive and requires dedicated resources. “It’s a myth to think that utilizing the Web to provide public access to reliable government information doesn’t carry a hefty price tag,” she told the Subcommittee. She ended her oral testimony by asking the Subcommittee members to fully support GPO’s FY 2009 funding request. “This year, I ask that you champion FDsys and, at the same time, support GPO’s other funding needs that are crucial to a robust information dissemination program,” she said. “The FDLP is your program, and we are counting on your help to keep it relevant in the 21st Century.”

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

AALL Washington Affairs Rep. to Testify Wednesday at House Legislative Branch Appropriations Hearing

May 6, 2008

Tomorrow, Mary Alice Baish, Acting Washington Affairs Representative of the American Association of Law Libraries, will testify before the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch on the FY 2009 Appropriations Request of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). She will testify on behalf of AALL, the American Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association

Mary Alice also testified before this committee last year. At that time, she highlighted the needs of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in the 21st Century. This year, Mary Alice’s testimony will focus on the need to fund GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). FDsys is GPO’s new, state of the art, digital system that we believe is essential to GPO’s future. Mary Alice’s testimony is embargoed until after the hearing but will be posted tomorrow afternoon.

The hearing will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, May 7, at 10:00 AM in 2359 Rayburn House Office Building. It will be webcast and available on the Subcommittee’s web site.

Witnesses will include:

(In Order of Appearance):

John G. Paré, Jr.
Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
National Federation of the Blind

Dennis M. Roth
Congressional Research Employees Association

J. Kent Dunlap
Chief Negotiator
Library of Congress Professional Guild
AFSCME Local 2910

Hon. William Orton
American Bar Association

Randy Julian
2007 Chairman
National Tour Association

Jennifer Dexter
Assistant Vice President
Government Relations
Easter Seals

Ronald La Due Lake
Interim Council
U. S. Government Accountability Office Employees Organization/International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers

Matthew A. Tighe
Fraternal Order of Police
U.S. Capitol Police

Mary Alice Baish
Acting Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries

John E. Elfrey
LL2135 International Association of Machinists
Government Printing Office

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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